02/05/08
Long Time Coming

Todd Bodine has been competing at Daytona International Speedway for two decades and after Friday night’s Craftsman Truck Series opener, he finally made it to Victory Lane.

It didn’t take long for the fireworks to explode under the lights on the massive Superspeedway. A multi-truck incident on Lap 19 left eight mangled trucks including the one that driven by last year’s series runner-up Mike Skinner.

“It’s way too early in the race for people to be jumping all over the track like that,” said Skinner, who could only shake his head in disgust and soldier on to a 29th place finish.

The man who beat Skinner for the title in 2007 didn’t fare much better.

Ron Hornaday ran in the top five, right up until Lap 44 when he broke a rear end gear and was forced to the garage for repairs. He eventually returned to the track but finished a disappointing 25th.

“I was half throttle out there most of the time,” said the defending champion. “We were just trying to stay out of trouble. This is unfortunate.”

With Hornaday and Skinner on the sidelines, the strongest trucks in the race belonged to Bodine and Erik Darnell, who started on the pole.

Darnell led 45 of 100 laps but on Lap 87 a vibration sent him scrambling for pit road. Before he could get there, Justin Marks ran into his tailgate and sent him spinning off the track.

That set up a nine-lap sprint to the checkers and Bodine successfully held off Cup Series regular Kyle Busch to score his 13th career victory.

“I came here three years as a crew member and 17 years as a driver,” said the exuberant Bodine. “I’ve finished second and third, crashed hard and burned a couple time. Finally!

“I was fighting it pretty hard the last few laps. Kyle (Busch) is known for driving hard but I knew he wasn’t going to turn me. It turned out great.”

Busch hung on to finish third and was followed by Johnny Benson, David Starr and Rick Crawford.
The Truck Series teams will make the long trek to California Speedway for Race No. 2 scheduled for next Saturday afternoon.